It was a gloomy mid-morning. The kind of morning when you can’t really tell what time of day it is because the sky is a monotonous, lumpy gray. I decided to take a walk through my neighborhood.
As I stepped out into the cheerless, fall weather, I found my surroundings blurred by fog, with just enough wind to blow the leaves around in that uncomfortable, eerie and mysterious way. The way that causes one to look suspiciously over their shoulder every so often because the startled leaves sound like invisible footsteps. An uncanny and empty time in the morning – the elementary schools were full and locked up, the crossing guards had tables at dunkin’ donuts and all the neighborhood dogs were inside after their walks and morning constitutions eating breakfast. The lack of sound hung in the fog, and quickened my pace.
After two blank and uneasy miles, I decided enough of this dreary walk. I turned around and started toward home. With yet another anxious glance behind me, I happened to look up and notice the bizarre contents of an unfamiliar tree. Between the sunless weather, my heightened sense of being followed and this tree with the really weird cauliflower orbs I started to think “Is mother nature messing with me – is this a spooky, halloween walk? Because this is kind of… a spooky halloween tree!”
If you look closely, you can see there are some large, green, very ugly baubles hanging from it. Oversized warty tennis balls? Immature, unripe lumpy softballs? What kind of tree is this with such an odd looking product? I could find nothing on the ground to take with me for further investigation – so I took a picture.
Back home, in the warm cheery light of my office, I googled a description of what I’d seen. It turns out this tree is an osage – orange tree or hedge-apple, and has quite a unique and interesting history here in Illinois.
(Hedge-apple! Sounds like something out of Harry Potter. No wonder this tree launched my imagination – all I could think about when I saw the large, round lumps was – what if this tree got angry and wild and one of those giant green balls fell off and landed on my head…well, it could be gruesome! Spooky, halloween gruesome!)
I found a close up picture of the “baubles” and as you can see, apples or oranges -beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder!
For more information about the hedge-apple/osage-orange click on the picture.